3 CONDITIONS THAT SET THE STAGE FOR BLINDING INSIGHT
- April 19, 2011BRUCE MAU DESIGN: 3 CONDITIONS THAT SET THE STAGE FOR BLINDING INSIGHT
Paddy Harrington, executive creative director at Bruce Mau Design, recently applied these 3 keys to redesigning an architectural website -- a design genre notorious for terribleness.
There was a period in the 1990s when most architecture websites were slow Flash-driven beasts. You waited minutes for the site to load, spent more minutes trying to understand how to navigate it, and likely never spent another minute on it again, out of sheer frustration. Architects just weren’t satisfied with the standard web pages, and so they chose the freedom and frustration, of Flash. The sites didn’t work very well, but, damn, they sure were nice to look at.
No process guarantees insight, but plenty set the stage for its arrival.
So when the young Chicago firm Studio Gang approached Bruce Mau Design with the task of refreshing their website, we set out one rule: no Flash. The challenge was how were we going to design a website that appeals to the sensibilities of architects--who are fascinated by how we move through space--while maintaining the clarity and simplicity that comes with standard web conventions like scrolling, text that you can actually copy and paste, and images that you can easily download.
Our process, as always, began with an immersion phase. We spent time at Studio Gang where we got to know the (amazing) culture and (wonderful) people, we observed quietly, and we engaged our team and theirs through workshops and interviews in search of the insight that would lead us to the foundation for our design work.
Then comes the time for the dirty little secret of design: The moment of insight. I believe Einstein was right to say that “the intuitive mind is a sacred gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.”
Seek difference because insight lies in the space between.
The act of deriving insight is the dirty secret of design in this age of scientific method, but that’s changing. There’s a lot of great new research to suggest that our intuitive minds are simply a different way of processing great volumes of information that we acquire through rational processes. Don’t blindly trust rational processes; listen to your intuition, too. Read Jonah Lehrer’s How We Decide, if you don’t believe me. There is no process in the world that guarantees insight, but there are plenty of processes that set the stage for its arrival.
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